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Ali Zafar on singing and acting, living out of a suitcase and sleeping on the floor!

His first mainstream Hindi film as hero, London Paris New York, is lukewarm at the box-office but for many Ali Zafar fans, he can do no wrong. “I am loving the feedback that I am getting. This was a challenging little film because it was experimental in its look and feel. Thankfully, it’s struck a chord with the right audience,” smiles the Pakistani musician-turned-actor. In the middle of planning a “small party for my family and some special people I have worked with in Mumbai”, Ali spoke to t2.

Do you see yourself as an actor first or a musician?

Right now I am an actor. I believe that I have a musician’s soul who works as an actor and enjoys it. There is acting involved in singing and vice-versa, so I don’t see the two being very different.

You have composed and written the songs for LPNY. Is that something that you’d like to do for your future films?

If someone asks me to do it then definitely, but it is not a condition that I would put on filmmakers. If the director and producer think that I am worthy of composing for the film then I would love to do it. With LPNY, I realised that since I am living the character, I understood what Nikhil wanted to say in the song. That helped me write, compose and sing a track that fitted the story and seemed natural for the character to do.

How do you look at your acting career at this stage?

I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I have worked very hard to get where I am and I continue to do so. My next film is Chashme Baddoor and everyone who has seen it has said that it is looking good. I just feel so fortunate.

In LPNY, you did your first-ever intimate scenes in a movie. How does your wife react to seeing you like that on screen?

Well, my wife (Ayesha) is quite exceptional. She is very logical, rational and supportive. I had discussed the scenes with her, so she knew about them and was comfortable. Also, the scenes in LPNY are very aesthetically shot.

Many consider you a sex symbol, more so after your shirtless scene in LPNY. Did you do anything special to get into shape?

Not really. I believe in living a healthy and stress-free life. I am not fond of junk or unhealthy food. Normally, about 10 days before I am supposed to start shooting, I start watching my diet and start exercising more. My diet during shoots normally includes a lot of grilled seafood, like salmon.

On screen, you seem to remind a lot of girls of Shah Rukh Khan!

I don’t know why anyone would say that. When I see myself on screen, I can’t see any similarities. He is just a great personality. He has his own space and I don’t think I am anywhere close to him. Also, I believe in being original. I believe that I bring my own style of acting to all my roles. If people still think I remind them of Shah Rukh, all I can say is ‘Thank you for the compliment’.

Has it been easy to live and work in Mumbai?

It has been easy but what has been tough is the fact that I stay away from my family who live in Lahore. I have been living out of a suitcase, in a hotel, for the last nine months. I have managed to do it only because I have some lovely people I work with who have been very kind to me.

Have you ever felt that you are working in a different country?

Not really. My family keeps coming to see me. But yes, I do miss my home and room. I also miss the culture, restaurants and markets of Lahore.

What are the best compliments you’ve got in Bollywood?

From the first film (Tere Bin Laden) to this one, I have only received praise and encouragement from everyone in the industry. One of my most treasured moments was when Yash Chopra spent 25 minutes telling me how happy he was with my performance in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. After LPNY released, Abhishek Sharma, who directed Tere Bin Laden, called and said this was my best work till date. He really made me happy because he is normally not very generous with compliments (laughs).

Where do you go from here?

Chashme Baddoor is my next film. It’s a remake of the ’80s classic. I am doing the role originally played by Farooque Shaikh. Though I did see the film before we started shooting, David Dhawan’s (the director) given it a very modern spin so it’s like a brand-new film. Everyone who has seen the rushes is very happy with what we have shot.


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